Lone Star SeductionBy: Day Leclaire
Making himself at home, he removed his suit jacket and dropped it over the back of the nearest chair. His snowy-white shirt stretched across a physique every bit as impressive now as when he’d played soccer. In fact, she found it more impressive with the added heft and refined muscle the years had built into his frame. A silk tie in a deep, rich ruby was knotted at his throat while a gold tie tack and matching cuff links gleamed in the subdued lighting. He was a gorgeous man, fully in his prime. Intelligent. Confident. Wealthy.
And he knew it.
Unless she chose to throw him out—a laughable exercise in futility—she had no option but to surrender gracefully. “What’s this about, Alex?” She waved aside the response she knew he’d make. “I know it’s TCC business. What, specifically?”
He considered for a moment before inclining his head. “Since I’m sure Kate’s already told you, I don’t suppose it matters.” She didn’t bother to correct him, and he continued. “It’s regarding an account discrepancy.”
She fought to swallow against a throat gone desert dry. “What sort of discrepancy?”
“Some money has gone missing.”
Oh, God. “How much?” she asked tightly.
“Three hundred thousand.”
The blood drained from her head and she felt her knees buckle. He reached her side before she even sensed him moving. Strong, powerful hands closed around her arms and he ushered her backward the few steps it took to reach the sofa.
“Sit down.” When she balked, his voice took on an impatient edge. “Don’t be ridiculous, Becca. You’re going down whether you sit or fall. Better to sit, yes?”
“You think he stole it, don’t you? You think my father’s responsible.”
He eased her onto the couch cushions and took a seat beside her, his hands still on her. Touching her. Grasping her. Warming her. “I don’t think.” He instantly dashed her hopes by adding, “I know he stole the money. The proof is undeniable.”
“There must be some mistake, some reasonable explanation—” she began, searching his expression with raw distress. “Please, Alex.”
“You always do that.” His gaze blistered her, pinning her in place with eyes the color of bitter dark chocolate. “You always defend him. It doesn’t matter what he does, how despicable his actions, you always take his side.”
“I don’t want to discuss our past.” She couldn’t bear it. Even after seven long years, the hurt was as fresh as yesterday. “He may have fired Carmen, even though I begged him not to, but his actions weren’t anywhere near as despicable as your own.”
His expression hardened, assuming a ruthlessness she’d never seen in the Alex she’d known all those years ago. “You’re talking about the bet.”
She attempted to escape the couch, but he held her in place, refusing to give her the breathing room she needed so desperately. “Of course I’m talking about the bet. The one you made with Rodriquez.”
“I’ve always been curious.” He tilted his head to one side while he studied her. “How, precisely, did your father learn of this bet?”
She stirred uncomfortably. “Word gets around, Alex. People…people brag.”
“Meaning, I must have bragged, because I was so proud of having won this bet. So, first I coaxed you into my bed on a dare and then I boasted about my success when it proved so easy?” He ignored her flinch. “Yes, I see that’s what you believe. Because that was the sort of man I was. A man who steals innocence and brags of his misdeeds. A man who lies and cheats to get what he wants.”
“Don’t do this, Alejandro.”
But he didn’t relent. “And because I was this liar, this cheat, this ruiner of all pure and wholesome, your father lashed out at—not just me—but my family, as well. As payback for having the audacity to touch you, he left my sister homeless and caused my mother to work herself into an early grave. This is the man you defend, dulzura?”
She would have covered her ears if she could have. But he continued to hold her, forcing her to hear each hideous word. “Don’t. Don’t call me that. You don’t have the right. Not any longer.”